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|Bocholt roundabout. Photo caption: Belgium Barb|
We spent the last of the Guilder on lunch food and apple tarts at a bakery, then crossed the German border. Like entering any country, signs change. Andy photographed me beside an empty border inspection station, presumably unused since the formation of the European Union.
|Bike path near Bocholt. Photo credit: CS.UNCA|
I wasn’t looking forward to pedaling in Germany, fearing the wonderful cycling paths would abruptly come to a halt. But the continuing trail network surprised me. We spent 2 hours in Bocholt withdrawing the local currency and locating a map, all the while stumbling with the language. At an international city bank we miraculously withdrew – for the first time – currency directly from an Auto Geld machine (ATM). We were surprised. For 6 weeks we’d made sure the banks were open to utilize our VISA card. That buoyed our spirits. There are approximately 1.58 Marks to the U.S. Dollar. Eventually we pedaled eastward through more flat farmland.
So far, some people speak a bit of English, which has helped. Cashiers at grocery stores often point to the register. We need to learn a few numbers in German.
|Farmhouses and attached barns. Photo credit: DB City|
The use of brick for construction is striking. Enormous farmhouses are attached to brickwork barns. All churches are also made of masonry – only the steeple is metal. Entire villages look like a red Lego masterpiece.
We cruise through Bratwurst country. Or at least we think we do. The strong smoked pork aroma permeates the air. And following shortly thereafter the stench of pig excrement is downright foul. For my vegetarian husband – even for myself – the smell is overwhelming. It’s enough to make us move faster.
|Photo credit: Bocholt for cyclists|
We have problems consuming enough water. It’s difficult to hydrate when we stop ever half-hour to relieve ourselves. I attribute it to the bumpy bike paths – it’s hard to pedal with a full bladder. Public toilets have been non-existent on the European continent. We’re accustomed to using the woods before or after entering a town.
Camping tonight is 15 marks, without showers. Since entering France showers have been pay-as-you-go. If it hasn’t been hot, we take one every two or three days.